Dec 5, 2011

New Tools for Predicting Success in College

It turns out that a few, often overlooked indicators are among a handful of great tools for predicting success in college.

According to the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA, students who visit a college before enrolling, those who participate in clubs and other activities, and those who use the internet for research are likely to stay in school and complete a degree earlier than those who don’t.

In addition, students who are admitted early, volunteer regularly during their senior year of high school, and those who decide to live on-campus are also more likely to stay and graduate.

Other, more recognizable factors such as SAT scores and high school GPA’s, as well as the cost and the size of an institution also figure into student success but colleges determined to improve rates of graduation should be looking at a broader range of student qualities.

“The message to colleges is to use as much information as possible about their incoming students to assess what their probabilities are in terms of completion and think about services and programs to be addressed,” said Sylvia Hurtado, director of the institute and one of the report’s authors.

Here a few more interesting facts from the HERI report:
  • Fewer than four in ten students (38%) complete a degree in four years.
  • Private universities have the highest 4-year degree completion rate (64%) and public 4-year institutions have the lowest (23.5%).
  • Students with A/A+ grades in high school are more than twice as likely to earn a degree after four years as are students with B averages.
  • Students with SAT scores (CR and M) between 1000 and 1099 graduate after 4 years at a rate of 34.8% and 58.6% after 6 years.
  • Choosing a college based on early action/early decision raises the odds of degree completion.
  • At the four-year mark, students who live in a private home or residence as compared to living in a residence hall have a 35.2% lower odds of having completed a degree than do students who plan to live in campus residence halls.
  • Students who come to campus with plans to transfer are at a significant attrition risk as are students who during their senior year of high school display poor academic habits.
  • Students who plan to work full time during college have lower odds of graduation

It turns out that the importance student place in the college choice process on selecting their institution because of early action/decision admittance, the overall cost of attending, and the size of the college are the three factors that have the largest impact on degree completion.

In fact, making a choice on which college to attend based on these factors not only assists students to complete their degrees at the institution where they initially matriculate, but also helps them complete degrees earlier.

Food for thought.

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